With much being made of London’s comprehensive public transport system, it is easy to get caught up in thinking and believing that the easiest and simplest way of travelling around the city is by tube or bus and so on. Whilst this is certainly true if you are trying to get from A to B in a hurry, if you are simply in London to do a spot of sightseeing and enjoy being a tourist then perhaps you are robbing yourself of actually seeing the city around you by travelling hundreds of feet underground.
Walking around London is not only an eco-friendly and cost-friendly way to get around but it can also afford you glimpses into the workings of the capital city which you might otherwise have missed out on. London is a city which is steeped in history and culture and evidence of that is on many a street corner. Some of the city’s most architecturally historical buildings are just part of the every day and don’t feature on many people’s ‘to visit’ list but can still leave you intrigued and surprised if you happen to pass by whilst walking around.
The other key thing to understand about walking around London is that it is actually much more feasible than you might imagine. Yes, London is a huge city and covers a lot of space but many of the attractions are located within a short distance of one another meaning that it makes very little sense to pay to travel by tube when you could make the most of the views around you by walking from one place to another. A lot of work has been done to improve pedestrian walkways in London and it is, actually, one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in the world. Type in your hotel’s name, such as ‘Lancaster Gate Hotel, Hyde Park’ and see how far it would take you to walk from the front door of your hotel to one of the attractions on your list; you might find yourself pleasantly surprised. Google maps is a great app for this as it has a ‘walk’ option alongside car and public transport so you can not only see how long it would take but also the advised route as well.
If we have sold the idea of walking around London to you then here are some top tips to bear in mind when planning your journey:-
Transport for London: The Transport for London website has a handy guide for walkers which can help you to plan your route around the city. Their online route planner is a handy tool for anyone planning a journey across London whether you want to go by tube, by bike or on foot.
Transport for London are also responsible for the ‘Legible London’ signs which are dotted around the city. These signs are map-based street signs which have been specifically designed to make it easier to navigate your way around London on foot as well as giving you usual information about the local area and realistic walking times between various places of interest.
Pocket Atlas/Tourist Guide: You may find it easier to buy a pocket atlas in order to map out your route, ensuring that you never get lost. They are sold at lots of souvenir shops but you can also find them at any Tourist Information Office. Better yet, they can be purchased online so you could plot out your walking routes well in advance of your visit to London.
London Walking Tours: There are a number of companies which offer organised walking tours around the sights of London. Many of these are themed and are great for people with specific interests such as the Royal Family or a popular television show like Dr Who. Alternatively, you could plan your own walking tour. There are many guides online which can be made use of as well as a number of free apps which can be downloaded onto your smart phone or tablet. Remember to take extra precautions if using your smart phone to navigate your way around the city; not only from potential thieves but also that you watch where you are going!
Comfortable footwear: This is a real must if you are going to be walking around London. Although you might have packed your brand new, beautiful pair of shoes to bring with you, the last thing you want is painful blisters from breaking them in as you spend hours wandering around and exploring London. Stick with waterproof, comfortable shoes if you are planning on doing a significant amount of walking during your time here.
Comfortable clothing: As above, carefully consider the clothes you are packing if you are planning on walking around the city. Layering is always good as you can slowly add or take away depending on how you are feeling; this means bringing a decent sized bag to carry your discarded layers in though. London is victim to typical British weather so it can often be drizzly and wet, even in the height of summer. For this reason, make sure you pack lightweight, waterproof clothing; or invest in a good umbrella!
Stay hydrated: This is very important, especially if you are travelling to London in the warmer months. Walking is an excellent form of exercise, as well as providing an opportunity for in-depth sightseeing but this means that it is very important that you stop regularly and drink lots. Luckily, there are plenty of wonderful cafes and coffee shops dotted around the city which make the perfect excuse for stopping for a short break.
Finally, if all else fails: as we mentioned briefly above, London has one of the most varied public transport networks in the world so if you need a break or simply want to try something different then you can catch a tube train or hop on a bus. Again, the Transport for London website is a great resource when it comes to understanding fares and routes and finding out where your nearest tube station is and so on but there are also a number of apps which can be downloaded and be ready to hand too.